In today’s world, solar panels play a vital role in powering our houses and industries, both on smaller and larger scales. Similarly, EVs are revolutionizing the automobile industry promoting sustainable transportation. But have you ever wondered why electric cars don’t have solar panels? The answer lies in the balance between the panel output and the charging efficiency of electric cars. Today we will learn about the practicality and challenges of implementing this approach.
Here are some of the factors explaining why don’t EVs have solar panels on the roof.
1. No Adequate Surface area
The flat roof area of a passenger car is approximately 2 square meters, and when equipped with solar panels, it has a peak output ranging from 1 to 6 kW. However, this output may not be sufficient to meet the power requirements of the car. While solar panels can contribute to the overall energy needs, the limited surface area on a car restricts the amount of energy generated.
Solar panels on the roof, being exposed to the elements on the car’s exterior, are susceptible to damage from road debris and harsh weather conditions. As these cars are not fully flourishing in the market obtaining replacement parts or finding technicians with expertise in solar car maintenance may be more challenging.
3. Climatic Conditions
Solar panels rely on sunlight, and their efficiency is influenced by changing weather conditions like cloudy days, nighttime, or indoor parking lessening the effectiveness of solar charging. Consider after a typical workday, an EV with solar panels may have limited solar exposure when parked in an underground parking garage. Winter and rainy conditions may not allow solar panels to generate sufficient energy for the car’s needs.
4. Charge Not Effective
Solar panels may not match the power demands of a car for regular driving. The primary consumers of power in an electric car are the electric motors that drive the wheels and the batteries that store and provide energy. The solar charge also has to run fans or vents, smartphones or tablets, interior lighting, and audio systems. This is why generally electric cars do not use solar panels on the roof.
5. Not Practical
Considering an average standard model panel is 5 feet, it would take a 15 feet 15-foot-long panel on the roof which is impractical. Moreover, if you have to drive to work 40 km per day in California it would take around 7.2kWh to consume energy from 3 panels.
Note: The calculation can vary depending on your location, and the type of solar panels and battery used.
Cross-Reference: How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?
6. Better Alternatives
Several alternative hassle-free charging methods and energy sources can complement or substitute solar power on car roofs like grid charging, home charging stations, and plug-in hybrid technology.
Despite all these limitations, if want to embrace this approach, check out our blog on How to Install Solar Panels on Car Roof
While the idea of capturing energy from the wind as a vehicle moves is interesting it may not be possible with practical considerations.
As per aerodynamics, adding wind turbines to a car can disrupt its aerodynamic profile.
When placed in stationary areas with strong wind sources, wind turbines work as energy conservation, but when placed in moving cars, the wind patterns are highly variable and often insufficient to generate significant power.
Wind turbines in the vehicle’s design are complex because it has moving parts like generators and blades. If provided by a wind turbine also, the car needs an electric motor to run.
So, we have learned why electric cars don’t have solar panels and wind turbines on their roofs. The limitations highly depend on your climatic conditions, the type of solar panels, and the battery used. Moreover, it would require around 20 kW of power to charge the car. To learn more about electric vehicles, check out our dedicated EV category.